Stocks in the News: Bank of America, Citigroup, FedEx

Bank of America (BAC) named Brian Moynihan to succeed Ken Lewis as president and CEO. Moynihan says he doesn't expect to lead a major shift in strategy when he takes over on Jan. 1. Investors, however, may expect more action as loan losses continue to mount.

Citigroup (C) shares are down some 8% in pre-market trading after the Treasury Department backed out of plans to sell its 34% stake in the bank. The move came after a weak response to a massive stock offering by the bank -- 5.4 million common shares at $3.15, an 8.7% discount to Wednesday's closing stock price. The government paid $3.25 a share for its stake; selling at that level, it would have lost 10 cents a share, about 3% of its investment.

FedEx (FDX) reported second-quarter results Thursday, posting a 30% decline in earnings to $345 million, or $1.10 per share. Revenue fell 10% to nearly $8.6 billion. But results beat estimates of $1.06 earnings per share on revenue of $8.46 billion. The company also issued a cautious outlook for its fiscal third quarter, even as it said it expects a modest economic recovery next year due to "some uncertainty regarding the sustainability of current demand trends." Shares fell more than 3.5% ahead of the bell.

Rite Aid (RAD) reported a narrower fiscal third-quarter loss, as a rise in prescriptions helped offset a continuing slump in same-store sales. Results topped the Street's estimates on both the top and bottom lines. Shares climbed 4.5% in pre-market trading.

General Mills Inc.'s (GIS) fiscal second quarter profit soared 50%, beating analyst estimates, as cash-strapped consumers looked for cheap meals. The company also boosted its full-year earnings guidance for the second time in three months following the strong quarter.

Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR) posted a surprise quarterly profit on cost cuts and improving sales trends. The retailer sees merchandise margins growing for the rest of the holiday season. Excluding items, the company's profit was 2 cents a share, beating the analysts' average forecast of a loss of 5 cents. Sales rose 8.7%, while same-store sales rose 13.7%. Shares were 3.4% higher ahead of the bell.

Other companies reporting today include Research in Motion (RIMM), Palm (PALM), Nike (NKE) and Oracle (ORCL).

American International Group (AIG) plans to file a prospectus for a multibillion dollar IPO of its Asian life insurance unit before Christmas, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said on Wednesday it would pay $785 million in cash to acquire privately-held Acclarent Inc. and its sinus-surgery technology.

First Solar Inc. (FSLR) forecast higher-than-expected 2010 sales on Wednesday, and said it plans to boost solar module production capacity in Malaysia.

Meredith Whitney Advisory Group on Thursday cut its profit estimates for Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs Group (GS). Shares of both declined more than 1.5% in pre-market trading.

In brief:

  • Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) reported a wider-than-forecast quarterly loss. Shares sank 9% before the bell.
  • Allegheny Technologies (ATI) raised fourth-quarter view.
  • Discover Financial's (DFS) net income slipped.
  • Sears's (SHLD) board raised its stock buyback plan by $500 million.
  • Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) upped its 2009 profit outlook.
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